(PlayStation 4 Version Reviewed) also available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC
It’s not a great Sonic game but it isn’t a terrible one either.
Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends have beaten Doctor Robotnik (Eggman) countless times. No matter what the iconic villain does, he can never beat Sonic. Doctor Robotnik presumably annoyed after two decades of failing to defeat Sonic, declares all-out war against the world, Sonic and his friends. Yes you read that right, war. This is Sonic Forces ladies and gentlemen. The world of Sonic the Hedgehog is at war, in conflict and that is weirdly comparable to the Sonic franchise as a whole. What I mean by that is, that the Sonic franchise is torn between ‘Classic’ Sonic and ‘Modern’ 3D Sonic. Is Sonic’s latest 3D outing any good? Is it as good as Generations? Well, Sonic Forces isn’t a bad game but it isn’t a great one either.
Let’s start off with Sonic Forces biggest feature, Avatar Creation. In Sonic Forces you can create your own character and effectively put yourself into the world of Sonic. When the Avatar Creator was announced I was quite enthusiastic about it. Being able to create your own character and become part of the Sonic universe is amazing and made me wonder, why hasn’t this been done before?
The character creator is surprisingly in-depth. I wasn’t expecting something like Saints Row but Sonic Team, have delivered a creation system that is pretty fun to tinker with. You can choose from several species such as dog, cat, wolf and of course hedgehog. You can also customise your character’s eyes, body colour, skin and head. There’s enough here to for you to create the Sonic universe character of your dreams. You can choose your character’s voice but to be quite honest it is rather pointless, as you don’t hear your avatar’s voice often. The only time you hear your character’s voice is when you fail in a mission and the occasional huff and puff, so there’s no point stressing over which voice is better fitted for your character.
Aside from the Avatar Creator you can also customise your created character with many accessories, such as hats, glasses, jackets and bodysuits. When you start the game there are only a few items of clothing and equipment to choose from, which is to be expected. By completing levels and meeting certain requirements, you will unlock more customisation items (more on this later in the review). There are some really cool things here to customise your character with and some weird things as well. People who are really invested into the world of Sonic the Hedgehog and like the fan fiction surrounding the series, will no doubt be besotted with the Avatar Creator.
Sonic Forces allows players to create their own character but it also gives them the opportunity play as them. So how do the created characters handle? Well, they look pretty cool, some mechanics work better than others and it’s rough around the edges. There’s no turning yourself into a ball here like Sonic, instead your character has a weapon called a Wispon. There are many kinds of Wispons however at the start you only have the one, a flamethrower which is more than adequate to start with. As you progress you’ll unlock different kinds of Wispons, All can be used to defeat enemies however, each one has a unique gameplay element. For example the Lightning Wispon allows you to zip along a chain of rings at speed. The flamethrower or ‘Burst’ as it’s called allows you to propel yourself higher, sort of like a rocket jump. The cube Wispon allows you to create blocks to reach higher places and it can be used in mid-air.
I like the Wispons not just because that they each have different gameplay elements but also, they make you play differently to ‘Classic’ Sonic and ‘Modern’ Sonic. If I have one criticism of the Wispons, it is that they are ridiculously overpowered when fighting enemies. One of my favourites the Lighting Wispon, makes mincemeat out of a crowd of enemies. When used as a weapon it becomes a whip and it covers a lot of ground and the enemies are defeated in one hit. The enemies are grass and the Wispons are the lawnmower.
Both ‘Modern’ Sonic and ‘Classic’ Sonic are playable in Sonic Forces and just like Generations, they both play differently from each other. Classic Sonic plays how you’d expect him to. You’re on a 2D plane but with a 3D background just like Generations. If you’ve played Sonic Generations then you’ll have a pretty good idea how Classic Sonic plays. All the usual stuff you’d expect from Classic Sonic is there and his inclusion in Forces, is definitely to appeal to older Sonic fans. A weird thing that happened to me once and I think it is worth mentioning here, Classic Sonic all of a sudden handled like he had a bar of soap attached to the sole of his shoes. It was really weird and I wasn’t going to fast or anything like that. It only happened the once but again I thought it was mentioning in the review.
Modern Sonic again like Classic Sonic, plays similarly to Generations but despite that it isn’t all sugar and rainbows. Modern Sonic looks cool, feels cool and plays cool, that is though when you finally have control of him again. It’s the same problem that Generations had but back then, you had more times when you were in control of Sonic. You can be playing then suddenly, control is taken away from you and then in the blink of an eye, you gain control again. It’s really annoying that Team Sonic still haven’t found a way to make Modern Sonic look extremely cool without taking away control from the player. All that aside however, the times when you get to control Modern Sonic are cool but they don’t match up on the coolness scale, to those when you don’t have control. I hope, I really do hope that this is sorted out in future instalments of Sonic games that feature modern Sonic.
Sonic Forces is a pretty looking game graphically. Environments look cool, detailed, vibrant and they definitely stand out. Team Sonic definitely made some cool backdrops for Sonic Forces. Character models look good, especially the main characters. Looking at both versions of Sonic is a delight, as both have clearly had a lot of care during development.
As mentioned before the story of Sonic Forces is about war, Doctor Robotnik has had enough and has declared all-out war against Sonic his friends and the world. It’s a bit of a darker tone to what we usually expect which is cool and as a result, it has potential to deliver a more mature story in the Sonic universe. Unfortunately that potential is wasted, as what could have been an interesting narrative away from the cheesy stuff we are used to with Sonic, turns into another cheesy and underwhelming story. It saddens me, it really does as the potential was there for a different kind of story. Anybody who has played a Sonic game, would’ve seen the huge potential for the story of Sonic Forces and it’s upsetting that Team Sonic didn’t capitalise on it. There’s no real need to go into detail about the game’s story but it isn’t anything special and it can be done in five hours, or less if you do nothing but the story.
The story is short and disappointing but is there are a few other things that add more meat to the bone. Each story mission has five red star rings to collect. Sometimes they can be achieved in one run but other times, a replay is needed. There are secret missions that are unlocked after surpassing certain milestones in the stories. These levels are calmer than those found in the story however there’s only a few of them and they don’t take long to complete. There are EX stages which unlock by collecting the red star rings and these are little bit harder than the secret levels but nothing that will stress you out. There are SOS missions which appear randomly and these task you with completing the level and sometimes rescuing captured animals, which is a nice throwback.
There are three kinds of SOS missions and these constantly appear and don’t run out. This is cool but these appear only appear only story levels, so even though there is more content, you’ll also be playing the same levels over and over. Also there are little goals (the game calls them missions) and these range from beating a stage in a certain amount of time, or completing a stage with an S rank and completing these will unlock accessories for your avatar. Completing all of these missions will be the thing that takes up the most time, if you are going to 100% the game that is.
Sonic Forces is also a very easy game. I know difficulty is subjective but even people who haven’t played a Sonic game wouldn’t have trouble with Forces. If you have played a Sonic game before then Forces will be laughably easy. The bosses aside from the last one, are complete pushovers and you could do them whilst being half asleep. The last boss actually requires to actually concentrate and focus. I know I’m making a big deal here but the boss fights should be harder, they are boss fights, they are supposed to challenge you.
I’ve been positive and negative towards Sonic Forces but I can add another positive and it’s a big one. Sonic Forces isn’t a full priced retail game. I bought my copy of Sonic Forces brand new for £23.99 at Smyths Toy Store (that wasn’t on offer either) which is a good price. Why am I bringing this up? If Sonic Forces was a full priced £40/$60 then I would be judging this game more harshly but because it isn’t, that swings in Sonic Forces favour.
I want to say that even though I’ve said few negative things about Sonic Forces, I had a lot of fun. This review is the hardest I’ve done, not in terms of difficulty but in coming up with a definitive verdict. It took a while but below is the conclusion, my verdict on Sonic Forces. (Kudos to you if have read all this).
Sonic Forces isn’t a great game but it isn’t bad either, it’s not even a middle of the road Sonic game. It’s just there. Forces has many great elements such as its avatar creation which is a much welcome addition. The fact that isn’t a full priced £40/$60 is a huge plus for Sonic Forces. It also has huge amounts of potential but it feels that it was never fully capitalised on and that’s a shame. If Sonic Team did, we could have been looking at one of the best 3D Sonic games made to date.
An underwhelming 3D Sonic game couldn’t have come at a worse time, right off the heels of the superb Sonic Mania. The story of Sonic Forces is about war and it’s ironic that the Sonic franchise feels that it is at war with itself.
I want to stress that Sonic Forces is not a terrible game but at the same time it is not a great one. Personally I was hoping that this would effectively be Sonic Generations 2. It was not meant to be. Maybe next time Sonic. Maybe next time.
(If you read all of this HUGE review, then thank you ever so much. I salute you for making it this far.)
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